Friday, 19 August 2022
'I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.’ -Jeremiah 24:7
We read of God’s vision to the prophet Jeremiah during the Babylonian exile. While King Nebuchadnezzar led a second deportation of exiles from Judah to Babylon, those who remained in Judah felt they were more privileged than the exiles. However, the vision of the two baskets of figs reveals differently. While God’s judgment for sin was upon the entire nation, those who responded to God discipline were the basket of good figs while those who remained in Judah represent an arrogant and unrepentant attitude like the basket of bad figs.
The two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord represent an offering to the Lord. As children of God, under the new covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are called to be a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God… (Romans 12:1), set-apart for the Lord. But in our daily walk in this world, we often fall or rebel against God’s word, just as the Israelites did. God has to discipline the rebellious; but in His infinite mercy and love for us, He prefers repentance and restoration than judgment. Just as God used the captivity to refine the Jews, He disciplines us to prune and purify us. As we understand this imagery of the good and bad baskets of figs, we need to examine how we respond to God’s discipline in our lives.
When we are chastened, we need to yield and respond wholeheartedly to the Lord. For those who seek Him earnestly in repentance, there is the promise of protection and restoration in Vs 5-7:
He regards us as good (Vs 5), reveals His forgiveness: As we seek the Lord with a penitent heart, He will forgive us and cleanse us by the precious blood of Christ. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
He sets His eyes on us for good (Vs 6) speaks of His divine protection: Even in difficult circumstances, our Lord is merciful to protect, watch over us and guard us from all harm. As we see in the lives of the Jewish exiles, all things work together for good to them that love God... (Romans 8:28)
He brings us back (Vs 6) revealing His restoration: From the land of captivity and sin, from the midst of our affliction, the Lord will bring us back if we turn in humility to Him. He will heal us of our backsliding, will reinstate us.
He builds us up (Vs 6) reveals a spiritual regeneration: The Lord gives us His Word and the Holy Spirit to guide and counsel us in our walk that we may not depart from His ways but grow in spiritual maturity.
He plants us (Vs 6) indicates being established in Christ: As we return to the Lord and seek to follow His ways, we are being rooted and built up Christ, established in our faith (Colossians 2:7) We will be like ‘a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither’ (Psalm 1:3).
He gives us a heart to know Him (V.7) reveals our relationship with God: This renewed relationship with God involves:
An inner transformation - “I will put my laws in their minds, I will write them on their hearts.” (Hebrews 8:10)
A deeper intimacy - “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (Hebrews 8:10)
A deeper revelation of God – “they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Jer.31:34)
A complete surrender – ‘they shall return to Me with their whole heart.’ (Jeremiah 24:7)
If you have experienced the heavy hand of the Lord on your life, do not rebel; rather confess, repent of your sin and rebellion and seek His face. He loves you; He will forgive you and restore you to a wonderful relationship with Him.
Prayer: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)